Tim Allen to Make Another Sitcom About Big Tools

‘Shifting Gears’ will show the ‘Home Improvement’ star playing a grumpy old mechanic of classic cars, because what else would it be about?
Tim Allen to Make Another Sitcom About Big Tools

At ABC, any time is Tool Time.

This current pilot season has been a perilous one for both actors and aspiring showrunners who find that today’s networks are tightening the purse strings on projects across the board. The deflation of the content bubble, the backlog of broadcast shows from the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes and the possibility of another upcoming strike from the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees has made the 2024 pilot season one of the driest on record. Some giants like CBS are even skipping the annual cycle of new show shopping entirely. Unfortunately for TV workers and TV watchers, it’s slim pickings in the industry, even in the ever-reliable sitcom genre — except for one giant who added a winning formula to his toolbox over 30 years ago and hasn’t stopped working since.

Amidst a sea of cancellations and despite a distinct dearth of green lights, Tim Allen is coming back to his garage at ABC, which just ordered a pilot of his new blue collar sitcom Shifting Gears. In the proposed series, Allen will play a cranky old classic car mechanic whose life is upended when his estranged daughter and her teenage kids move in with him. Shifting Gears is an ironic title for a sitcom that sounds like the tagline should be, “It’s exactly what you think it is.”

From a business perspective, it makes perfect sense to go with what works during a tumultuous time for television. America proved that “Tim Allen + tools” is an effective equation for a successful family-friendly sitcom with Home Improvement, in spite of Allen’s not-so-PG arrest record. Then, when Allen returned to the network in 2011 to launch nine seasons of Last Man Standing, which showed him as a sporting goods executive who refuses to be emasculated by the women in his life or the liberalization of America, ABC suits started to realize that they didn’t need to expend more effort to make a hit show than put Allen in a room full of masculine consumer goods.

Shifting Gears will be written and executive produced by Simpsons veteran Mike Scully and his wife/creative partner Julie Thacker Scully, and though a pilot order doesn’t guarantee a green light, it’s hard to imagine ABC passing on a project that seems tailor-made for their modus operandi. In the current, uncertain entertainment climate, the old guard of gatekeepers aren’t going to stick their necks out on any projects that aren’t sure things, and nothing screams safety quite like Allen with a wrench in his hand.

However, Shifting Gears could still come to a grinding halt, which would likely spell doom for the sitcom industry if networks won’t put down money even on the safest of bets. Not that Allen will be affected — he’s got a habit of slipping out of disasters scot-free.


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